Kalkan: Tayyip Erdoğan administration creates problems wherever it goes

Duran Kalkan spoke about the ‘Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan, a Political Solution to the Kurdish Question’ campaign as well as the results of the municipal elections held on 31 March.

In the first part of this interview, Duran Kalkan, member of the KCK Executive Council, spoke about the ‘Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan, a Political Solution to the Kurdish Question’ campaign as well as the results of the municipal elections held on 31 March.

Firstly, let us evaluate the international ‘Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan, a Political Solution to the Kurdish Question’ campaign that has been ongoing for several months. What is your opinion on the latest actions and the campaign as a whole?

Firstly, I would like to respectfully offer my greetings to Rêber Apo [Abdullah Öcalan] who is currently conducting a historic resistance on Imrali island. The aggravated solitary confinement and isolation being imposed on Rêber Apo continues. For thirty-seven months, over three years, we have not heard any news from Rêber Apo. We are entering a fourth year under these conditions. There has been no disclosure of information from the responsible institutions in regard to Imrali. All the hegemonic forces seem to approve of this situation and participate in it. A collaboration can clearly be ascertained.

Certain European institutions, particularly the Council of Europe, are responsible for the creation and management of the Imrali system. These institutions are the decision-makers in regard to Imrali. They try to portray themselves in a democratic light, yet it is undisputable that they are party to this undemocratic situation. There is a very deliberate misconduct aiming to delay, or prevent altogether, the re-evaluation of Rêber Apo’s case after 25 years – the decision made by courts during his legal case. In this attempt, they are issuing constant ‘disciplinary penalties’ against Rêber Apo to ensure his case is not re-evaluated. This is why we emphasize the significance of the legal struggle.

In this respect, a conference in which various jurists participated was held at the European Parliament a few days ago; this is meaningful and important. We need to hold many such conferences. It has become clear that nothing in Imrali is proceeding according to the law. All kinds of rights violations are being carried out there. It is necessary to struggle more against this and to work harder on exposing the ongoing situation. As was reflected in the press, there will be a mass action in Strasbourg. There will be a protest in front of the institutions responsible for the Imrali system. I would like to congratulate the participants in advance and wish them all success.

This captivity of Rêber Apo should not be understood as something that only the Turkish state, the AKP, and the MHP are responsible for. Yes, they have a part in it, but there are other actors who hold the biggest share. In this respect, I want to emphasize the necessity of struggle. It is necessary to struggle every day. Every Kurd should be in action. What the enemy is trying to do is create the foundations that we accept to not receive any news from Rêber Apo. They hope to weaken or break our connection with Rêber Apo in this way. So, what we must do is grow closer to Rêber Apo. We must assume it our most fundamental duty to think, discuss, struggle, and take action for the physical freedom of Rêber Apo every day. All Kurds, wherever they are, men and women, young and old, should be in constant action. We must expand and spread our global campaign, which aims for the physical freedom of Rêber Apo and the solution to the Kurdish question. We must pave the way for gradual mass participation in the campaign. And there are important developments in this sense. There have been important actions and events in the last period. On March 8, the protests of women united with the goal of Rêber Apo’s physical freedom. Indeed, it was predicted that the second phase of our freedom campaign would be the phase of mass unification; this was indeed the case. On Newroz, tens of millions of people were taking to the streets and uniting at the celebration venues. It was one of the most spectacular Newroz celebrations of all time. The celebrations were intertwined with the goal of Rêber Apo’s physical freedom. Corresponding slogans were chanted everywhere. The Kurdish people demonstrated their stand. Almost like in a congress, they made a declaration of their will; that there will be no life without Rêber Apo, and that they demanded the physical freedom of Rêber Apo.

The outcome of all this was reflected in the March 31st election. This is the background against which the elections should be evaluated. In the municipal elections, this isolationist, fascist, colonialist, and genocidal mentality and politics suffered a fatal blow. The AKP was demoted from being a single-party, it lost its base and allies. This is an important situation.

This spirit prevailed all through the April 4th celebrations, and it’s something that needs to be spread. Every day and every place must be utilized to advance the goals of the struggle. Every person must consider the possibilities and keep their focus on the struggle. May 1st is now ahead of us. On May 1st, we must reach a new peak. We must raise the bar in our fight for freedom. In the same way, it was important to voice the demand for Rêber Apo’s physical independence at Newroz and on March 8, we must also make our voices heard on May 1st.

Just as Rêber Apo is the leader that revived Newroz and gave a new meaning to March 8, it is Rêber Apo that makes the greatest contribution to May 1st. Therefore, May 1st should be organized for Rêber Apo, and actions on this day should be taken for him. All Kurds, wherever they are, should take to the squares and streets on May 1st. They must lead the way, they must unite with workers and laborers everywhere, they must unite with the people; and they must really take the freedom campaign to a new peak, on a global level. This is important, especially since May 1st is an opportunity to achieve this. Let’s make good use of this opportunity. Everyone should make preparations from now, establish relations, contact organizations, and do whatever it takes. It is important to add meaning to May 1st – redefine it as a day when all workers and laborers, all socialist left forces, all oppressed people, women, and youth, from all over the world, struggle for the physical freedom of Rêber Apo. Let’s reach a new peak with our campaign on May 1st. This is our stance and our call. And we believe this will be the case. I congratulate our people, workers and laborers, and all oppressed peoples on May 1st, and I wish them all success.

In relation to the municipal elections that took place on March 31 in Northern Kurdistan and Turkey, the results were a great success for the people and a heavy blow for the government. What conclusions should be drawn from the elections? And what will happen next with Erdoğan and the AKP?

The first thing the AKP needs to do is step down. If there is even a tiny shred of democracy left in Turkey, Tayyip Erdoğan must step down. When it suits their interests, the Erdoğan regime attempts to imitate European culture by presenting themselves as Europeans. This is what they have been doing for a century. But when we think about it, any president, prime minister, or administration in Europe would have had to step down if they found themselves in the same predicament as Turkey has at the moment. Nothing in Turkey is the same. The phrase “end” was used by Tayyip Erdoğan in his post-election speech. Did he come to terms with his impending end? He had to have given it some thought, he knew it was over, but he was also aware that his close circles wouldn’t pressure him to step down. He doesn’t anticipate to be confronted, since he has censored any such attempt during his rule. In regards to the various political and social forces, uncertainty prevails. Will they force an early parliamentary election? Will they ask for Erdoğan’s resignation? Its unclear. As the freedom movement, our reaction is to struggle. We will do this with or without elections. We are such a movement.

The Tayyip Erdoğan administration was boastful about how it had won every election since its establishment. It used this as grounds to gain support for the occupation operation it has been planning this entire winter. Thus, it was hoping for a favorable outcome during these elections. It held numerous meetings in this regard with the USA and NATO. They got support and acceptance in return for Sweden’s NATO membership. Throughout the winter, they had been continuously active in Hewlêr [Erbil] and Baghdad. They continued their efforts and visited Iran too. Erdoğan is reportedly scheduled to visit Baghdad on April 22nd. After that, Erdoğan is scheduled to visit America, to find support. So, his hope and his plan was to be successful in the elections, and with the wind of this election and a little bit of legitimacy, he would further develop his genocidal occupation attacks, both towards the Medya Defense Zones and other areas. But after already suffering a heavy defeat in the war, Erdogan has also suffered a heavy defeat in this election. During the winter, the Kurdish freedom guerrilla struck blow after blow in the region of Zap. Erdoğan was defeated militarily, and now, after suffering a political defeat in the elections, his position has weakened even more. Militarily and politically, he had lost the initiative and suffered defeat. What could he do now? If he were a bit democratic, there would be no other choice than to resign. Since he is not, he will try to continue his way with the same methods. The only remedy he will resort to is war, aggression, more fascist oppression, and terror. With this, he will try to silence all opposition.

Based on this, the government will try to extend its life a little longer. There is no other alternative the Erdoğan administration see for themselves. They are in such a situation that Tayyip Erdoğan’s government, in its current form, has been hit politically and militarily and has lost its power. It is not able to attack as it wishes, yet it desperately needs to attack. If it does not attack, if it does not escalate fascist terror, it seems that there is no route to survival for itself, there is no other way to prolong its life. It is in such a predicament. In fact, even if it attacks, it will not be able to free itself from this situation. Further attacking just means sinking deeper into a total deadlock. The reason for this is the policies which it is pursuing, its anti-Kurdish, occupying, and genocidal attack policies. Still, the Erdoğan administration is trying to save the situation a little bit and is trying to mitigate the defeats, to breathe a little bit, to continue its wars, and to create further deceptions for its forces. Erdoğan is going to go to Baghdad and America and wants to prepare his surroundings for the new attacks that he is going to carry out. This seems to be the case.

Is this a solution? Not at all in our eyes. But this is a struggle. We will see what the results will be. This government is actually experiencing its last days. If the AKP government does attack, then this will be its last attack. They always stated that this was their last fight. This slogan was the only one they so determinedly used, and now it has become their truth. This is going to be their last fight.

On this basis, it tries to find support again, but it is confronted with difficulties. Why would the Iraqi government, the forces of South Kurdistan, and similar forces support a power that has suffered such a political and military defeat? Why would they support an occupier, that is occupying their territory? The Tayyip Erdoğan administration creates problems wherever it goes. Thereby, the biggest problem is Tayyip Erdoğan, with his ideas and his political presence, himself. So far, he has stirred up trouble everywhere. By doing so, he has robbed, stolen and made himself and his relatives become some of the richest people in the world. Why should anyone support this? Erdoğan will probably want to take advantage of the vacuum, a result of the upcoming elections in the US.

In short, Erdoğan is in a weak position, he has been hit, but he is not gone yet, he will attack desperately. This needs to be seen and preparations need to be made accordingly. This is important. As a movement, we evaluate these, but everyone should evaluate this. All patriots, all our people, everyone should know this. Everyone needs to be prepared. We must succeed in strangling the AKP-MHP fascism in this last attack. This must be our goal. They will suffocate and collapse in their last attack. We must believe this and in order to achieve this, everyone must prepare and participate in this process of resistance and needs to mobilize.

What does the success in these municipal elections mean for the social, democratic, and oppositional forces of the country?

Let me first say that fascism was not tolerated in Kurdistan. As in all prior elections, the Kurdish people once again demonstrated their unwavering desire for freedom and democracy. The demands of the Kurdish people are clear: they want Turkey to become democratic and accept their freedom. The election results make this quite obvious and apparent. It has been reported that the AKP used various fraudulent strategies and coercion to win mayorships in many Kurdish cities. It was evident that there were blatant frauds. Many votes were shifted, frauds were committed, ballot boxes were rigged, and people were lined up like slaves, taken away, and forced to vote. In other words, the era of slavery has now taken the form of voting under AKP rule.

Aside from this, I want to commend and honor the Kurdish people for their advocacy of freedom and democracy. They demolished the appointment of trustees in Kurdistan with great determination. By taking ownership of their municipalities, they succeeded. By winning these elections, they were able to make the municipalities the home of the people. We consider this a very important aspect. With the spirit of success, the people began to rebuild their municipalities. This is how it should stay going forward. It is necessary to represent the people’s will. These buildings should be used by the community to manage its affairs.

The elected co-mayors of the municipalities should be the ones to coordinate these works, to unite and integrate with the people on this basis. So much so that the municipalities should turn into spaces of organizing. Of course, the government is trying to usurp again. The example in Wan depicts this mentality, making it visible to everyone. This approach is not a one-off, it is not something that just happened. From now on, there will be no more trustees, no more usurpation. The stance of the people of Wan and the democratic forces clearly showed this. What was done in Wan can be done everywhere.

Still, everyone must be ready for the attacks that will come from the AKP-MHP fascist administration. The people must be ready, and the co-chairs must be ready. They should be able to turn their municipalities into centers of organization and democracy – local democracy in particular. They must be prepared for all kinds of fascist, genocidal, and colonialist attacks. Nevertheless, there will be resistance. No place will just surrender with or without resistance. Moreover, the municipality symbolizes the organization of the people. It means for organized people to conduct their own work. If the people have decided on something, if a united and organized voice arises from this, the municipality work would truly find meaning. The services of the municipality is not limited to a building but rather the streets and everywhere else. This is how everyone should approach the municipality, which is an important part of local administration. This must be the fundamental approach in the new period.

On the other hand, the duty of democratizing Turkey withstands. We attach great importance to this factor as well. Let me express the following in this regard: Some circles were complaining that AKP-MHP fascism was very effective in various parts of Turkey, that there was a fascist lockdown, that people were completely brainwashed, that these regions were full of racist, nationalist, and chauvinist mentality, and that it was very difficult to change them. These elections have nullified such an approach. It has become clear that society in Turkey is open to change. It is not ossified or anything like that. Of course, there are such regions, but the fascist-dominated areas are a very small minority in Turkey. The vast majority are actually in search of democracy. They feel suffocated because of the economic crisis and the crisis that emerged as a result of the Kurdish hostility and war policies created by AKP-MHP fascism. They are hungry and are looking for perspectives and a solution. There is huge pressure, there is terror, and people cannot breathe. If a party is able to provide the people with that which they need, the people would be willing to organize in the name of democracy and freedom. Whether this was the Black Sea region or Central Anatolia, it would not matter. During the elections, positive results were achieved in places that were thought to be impossible. Therefore, the forces of democracy, the DEM Party, and the Labor and Freedom Alliance should develop a broad peace and democracy movement in Turkey. There is already a basis for this in Kurdistan. The people there run their own affairs. It is important to spread to new areas, to attract people with different views, to make appropriate propaganda and education, and to spread concepts of democracy and freedom.

In this respect, all political circles and parties in Turkey should regard this situation as an advantage. They must work on mobilization, propaganda, and organizing. The situation right now shows that there is potential for this to evolve. Indeed, such an effort would find supporters, bring down this government in the shortest possible time, and develop an alternative democratic administration.

I need to underline the following: a new process has started in Turkey. The democratization process, democratic consciousness, political organization, and action will develop. Fascism will be overthrown, all its effects will be erased, and democratization will prevail. Kurdish freedom is a fundamental pillar of this. No matter what was inflicted on the Kurdish people in the past, no matter how much pressure was put, the Kurdish people did not step-back. They are the motor force behind Turkey’s democratization. They are standing upright and vivid. It is necessary to work in every part of Turkey, in every city, from Istanbul to Izmir, from Ankara to Çukurova, to the Black Sea, to the neighborhoods, reaching the workers, laborers, and women, young and old. It is necessary to reach people of all genders, colors, and beliefs. It is necessary to explain this fascist, genocidal, colonialist mentality, politics, and system and ask them for democratization. The path to this is open and whoever walks it, wins. The tenet of patriotism brings a strive for democracy and a revolutionary mindset with it. On this basis, the democracy movement can develop strongly. They have won so many municipalities and are getting so many votes. If this work is properly conducted, the democratic bloc would gain as much as 20-30 percent and become the first party.

Following Kılıçdaroğlu’s defeat, Özgür Özel’s CHP introduced a new dynamic to the elections. It became the first party. Ecevit’s CHP had made a similar breakthrough fifty years prior. But even with his greatest efforts, Ecevit failed to become the person to empower democracy because he was too ideologically entangled in the given politics and mentality to be able to innovate. This mindset is essentially a manifestation of cultural genocide articulated as enmity towards Kurds.

Coming back to today, could the current developments provide a new opportunity for the CHP? We don’t know if the Özgür Özel administration can really change the current situation. Can it overcome the dominant mentality and politics? Although the CHP is credited with founding the republic, this does not imply that they are its emissaries. The CHP has always considered itself to be the protector of the republic. They really state this outright. Establishing a republic is one thing, establishing a democratic republic is another. For Turkey to become a republic, there needs to be a mental and political transformation. One must internalize the true meaning of the concept of the republic, carrying the sincere desire to democratize it. It is essential to be devoted to democratic ideals. Is it possible for them to present such a program?

They should remember that the Kurdish issue lies at the core of all of Turkey’s issues if they are to propose an adequate democratic program. Be it a war, the economic crisis, or a political crisis; the isolation being imposed on Imrali is the cause. Can the CHP create new policies regarding these matters? Can the CHP adopt trustworthy steps that will widen the door to democracy and a democratic resolution of the Kurdish issue? We hope the CHP takes this action. We genuinely do.

Under the CHP, certain government officials are distorting historical events; they are not being truthful. They’re attempting to portray the Kurds as people who are against the Republicans, as though the Kurds undermine the will of the republic. They wish to use this as the foundation for a century of anti-Kurdish sentiment, a new pretext for more massacres and genocides against Kurds. All they’re doing is spreading false information. These are defamatory statements. It is imperative to examine the historical facts closely.

The Kurds were the ones who resisted against French and British occupation. The areas where the Kurds live were the only areas safeguarded from occupation. Again, in the example of Greek occupation, some Turkish chauvinists were encouraging people to flee saying that when the Greeks approached Eskişehir, Ankara should be left and the people should flee to Erzurum. All while, the Kurdish deputies were encouraging people to stay determined, saying that not even a step back would be taken. This is the true story of how Ankara was protected. Who can deny this? We all know this very well. The Kurds did the greatest service to the establishment of the Republic. Still, some individuals are trying to deceive society with lies.

The Republic did not protect the Kurds, it did not develop a democratic attitude. When they formed an alliance with the Kurds, they promised to implement the decisions they took. Supposedly, they were going to grant the Kurds autonomy. They made all kinds of promises, they put it in the constitution, but then they changed it all. When we look at the constitution's current form, it could be easily seen that many of its articles are based on the denial of Kurdish identity, even if this includes historical misrepresentation.

One article, in particular, states that: “Everyone who is bound to the Republic of Turkey by citizenship is a Turk.” This is what they define a Turk as. The Republic of Turkey has only existed for a hundred years. But were there no Turks in this world a hundred years ago? If the Turks are being reduced to a hundred-year-old society, they may as well not exist. The founding of the republic, represents only the founding of the republic. Not the founding of an entire society. This mentality which denies history, is unaware that it is also denying itself in the process. Even so, this article is given special status; it is unamendable. The name of this article cannot be changed, and its amendment cannot be discussed. The amendment of this article cannot be proposed, discussed, or requested – even asking for its amendment constitutes crime. The mentality behind such articles has become so abstract, so superficial, and so far from reality that it even denies itself. There is no need to elaborate further. Everyone knows, or should know, these obvious facts. The ruling circles and powers know history very well; they are conducting this policy to deliberately deceive.

So, will there really be some honesty and adherence today to the minimum democratic values? Actually, we would favor this and, of course, if this is achieved it will find support. Though, there must be a clear and transparent program regarding the CHP’s plans for the future. If this is the case, if the CHP can renew and democratize itself, it can really develop itself. It would be good if this happened.